"If it is left like what it is, it is bound to die.... we want Air India to survive, we don't mind where it is, who runs it. As long as it serves the Indian people and Indian skies, we are happy," Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju said recently while responding to a query...
regarding the privatisation of Air India.
Describing Air India as a "nice" airline and in the last two years it has not added to its losses, Raju said, "....I like that Airline, I like it to survive, I would love it to survive, but I can’t commit the tax payers money for eternity."
Replying to another question on when it will take up the move, he said "...something has to be done about it, the sooner the better. We would like it to survive whether it is owned by the government....." He said regional connectivity is among the priorities of the government for civil aviation in India. He also said, "India is a big country, we have about 31-32 airports which are not serviced by airlines. Our priority is to connect the unversed and the under-served. Right now we are evaluating them."
Air India since the implementation of the turnaround plan, has been constantly improving its operational as well as financial performance. In the financial year 2015-16, the Maharaja posted an operating profit of Rs 105 crore, he said, adding, “In the financial year 2016-17 also, the company has been steadily improving its all-round performance and it is expected that the company would again post an improved operating profit margin in the current fiscal also,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha recently told Rajya Sabha.
However, Sinha said cash constraints continue to impact its smooth performance. The airline is surviving on a Rs 30,231-crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012, as part of its turnaround plan, staggering over 10 years.
As part of this planned equity infusion, the carrier has so far received around Rs 24,000 crore from the government. Sinha said Air India has been making constant efforts for substituting its high-cost working capital loans with long-term low-cost debt.